The Gridiron Uniform Database
About This Site|
This website presents graphical representations of every uniform that has been worn in the NFL since 1920. This project is the culmination of a lot of hard work by two men to chronicle the numerous combinations of uniforms that have been worn by players in the league in thousands of games over the past eighty years. Tim Brulia and Bill Schaefer have painstakingly worked on this research over the past few years.
Tim's work on the Uni Watch website has included his breakdown of what every NFL team wore from 1933 to 1958 and also his project detailing every example of which teams have worn white at home. You can read about the collaboration of his historical research with Bill's design skills in Uni Watch, which featured their stories, here and here.
After being featured at Uni Watch, Tim and Bill came into contact with Rob Holecko, who had been working on a website, ThrowbackReport.com, which had been chronicling all instances of throwback uniforms being worn in MLB and other sports. Rob has helped Tim and Bill to build this website to showcase their research.
Special thanks also to Paul Lukas, Phil Hecken and the entire Uni Watch community, without whom the three of us would not have come together to make this project possible.
This website is a constant work in progress, there is much more still to be added. In the meantime, you can navigate this site by clicking from the front page, the years to the left or the teams to the right and find what you are looking for. The best way to attack this site, is to just jump right in and start exploring, you never know what you might find. On every uniform image on the site, you can click it to view a higher resolution view of those uniforms.
When complete, this site will feature the uniforms that every team wore in every game of every season back to 1920.
If you have corrections, questions or observations, feel free to leave a comment in our blog or in the forum. Any emails regarding this site content should be directed to Tim, the uniform historian, or Bill, the site's graphics designer, and any technical website issues, should be directed to Rob, the webmaster.
About The Template
by Bill Schaefer
To begin, I want to mention how I began using a 2-dimensional template. I admit this was not my own creation. While searching online for the “50th Anniversary AFL Logos” early in the Spring of 2009, I came across the images of one man’s version of how he envisioned that upcoming season's League uniforms. While very good efforts, under a talented eye, errors began to be uncovered.
The sleeves were too long. The collars had the 1990's NFL Shield instead of the then-current "NFL Equipment" logo. Colors were not all that accurate. A dozen helmet logos were oversized. The AFL Commemorative patches were wrong. None of the images contained any manufacture's logos. Notwithstanding, it was a wonderful 2-D template that was to become the basis of our project.
I began using them to construct the 1933-58 variations with a great number of changes and specializations. Longer sleeves, altered collars to mostly crew necks, and the construction of leather helmet templates were just some of my own creations. Once Tim Brulia and I got going with this and we knew we were going to display these on a website at some point, I attempted to contact the original creator to assist us with some problems I was having with the helmets. I was never able to reach this man. We owe this unknown artist a great deal. He supplied us with the raw materials to create, with a tremendous amount of additional work, the images you currently see.
With Nike becoming the lone supplier of NFL uniforms (except the helmets), a new template was needed to accurately reflect the changes we would see. With the 2012 season, the GUD introduced a new feature…”HD” graphics. These renditions of team uniforms, at 4 times the size of those previously shown, allow for unmatched detail for you, the viewer.
Below I have listed 12 different parts of the uniform. Generally speaking, we have been dealing with these 12 different aspects of every team’s uniforms. The current League teams have played a combined 1,749 seasons between 1933 and 2012. During this time, most teams had a minimum of 2 uniform combinations each year so you can easily double this figure to a minimum of 3,498 uniforms – front and back – and this does not even approach the actual number since most current teams have had at least three or more combinations per year that have been worn over the past decade. (This year in 2012, the champion Baltimore Ravens wore 10 different combinations including their Art Modell memorial patch, the Hall Of Fame Anniversary patch, and the Super Bowl patch.) Now multiply this casual estimate of 3,498 uniforms by the 12 features we’ve mentioned. A figure of 41,976 total features is still an underestimate for our project. This figure does not include the 4 years of the AAFC (which spawned teams in San Francisco, Cleveland, and the beginnings of a Baltimore franchise) nor does it include the defunct teams that are now just a wistful memory in the history of professional football. Each feature of these uniforms has a little story I’d like to share with you before you peruse our site and I’d like to begin at the top.
After creating several leather helmet templates to utilize through the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, the first plastic helmets began to appear around 1950. For the most part, this shell remained the same until the mid-1970’s. We used the same helmet model from that point on until 2012. When Nike took over as the League’s supplier, we, at the GUD, decided this was as good of a point to update the helmets as any other. After 2000, many new models and styles began to be worn throughout the League, however, we decided that the overhaul that occurred prior to the 2012 season was the best point at which to display a change.
We have displayed any central striping pattern since a 2-dimensional image does limit the ability to see these striping patterns in all their glory. If no central striping is displayed, the helmet has no such striping.
We have made the decision not to include helmet numbers. On a 2-dimensional helmet, numbers at the front and rear would not show well due to the curvature of the helmet, especially numbers like those that adorn Pittsburgh’s current variation of helmet where some single digit players have their number located within the central stripe. We have also not included any additional decals on helmets, with only a few notable exceptions. Memorial ‘number’ decals, the ‘green radio dot,’ the US Flag, and safety warning decals have all adorned helmets. However, due to their sometimes random placements, along with the fact that not all players wore them, these aspects move helmet decals to their own location on our site. Please check out our increasingly complete “History of Helmet Decals” in the Research section of our site.
One lone helmet variation does require a brief description. In 2009, as part of their uniform overhaul, the Jacksonville Jaguars introduced a first-of-its-kind opalescent helmet. It is designed in such a way that the helmet shell would appear to range in color from black to teal depending on the angles at which the Sun hits it and the angles at which the viewer sees it. To indicate this optical effect, the image of the 2009 Jaguars’ helmet has a ‘spray-dot’ included on the forehead region.
By the mid-1950’s, facemask usage began to out-number the players who did not use them. Our historian, Tim Brulia, has tried to pinpoint the best estimate when facemasks entered the majority for each team. We have tried to limit the early single-bar facemask from the mid-1950’sup until 1965, the last season before the AFL/NFL merger. Grey double-bar facemasks were utilized
for images running from 1966 to 1973. In 1974, Kansas City and San Diego became the first two teams to use colored, non-grey facemasks. From that point on we kept the facemask cage the same until 2012.
Crew-neck collars were the ‘norm’ for most teams up to the early 1980’s when the V-necks began to emerge. Some teams, like Chicago and Pittsburgh, kept their crew-necks into the 1990’s, however. Also included are some collar anomalies such as the early 1960’s Dallas, the late 1970’s Washington, and the 1980’s New York cross-over collars. Nike brought a new type of collar with their 2012 takeover – the flywire – however some teams opted not to indulge in this latest technology and kept their collars without change. Many, like Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay and New England, did so as to keep their striped collars, something the flywire could not incorporate.
Until the Nike takeover, the biggest alterations in jerseys have been sleeves lengths. As with facemasks, we began trying to pinpoint the exact time in which teams went from full, long sleeves with cuffs on the end, to non-cuffed sleeves that terminate above the wrist. Finding no specific date, we settled on making this transition uniformly at 1957. From there, we began to shorten the sleeves in incremental steps as deemed necessary by each team. Of particular note, by the time we reached the 1980’s and 1990’s, some teams like Buffalo and Detroit began the trend of cutting their sleeves in the middle of their striped pattern.
In 2002, Reebok became the sole supplier of jerseys and pants. With them came the advent of, as we call them, micro-sleeves. In 2001, however, prior to the League-wide change, several teams remained under contract with Adidas. These jerseys, for the most part, did not have the ‘micro-sleeves’ and so this difference has been maintained for that season. One lone team from the Reebok class of 2001 that has not been shown with the micro-sleeves is Indianapolis. At that time, they still wore their ‘UCLA-style’ stripes that ‘hooped’ over the shoulder and gathered in the armpit. This would be almost impossible to show while in the micro-sleeve era so their longer sleeves were kept for one last season.
In 1991, all jerseys became adorned with the NFL logo at the collar. Some photos exist that show players without these logos as they believed they were employed by a specific team rather than the League as a whole. Also around this time, manufacturer’s logos began to appear on all jerseys. These have been included on team’s jerseys as authentically as possible. The placement of these manufacturer’s logos varied as many as 4 different placements on team jerseys even in pictures of the same game! We decided to place these logos in their most common positions for each season. So prevalent have these logos become that they could almost be considered a separate entry of this uniform parts list.
Captaincy badges have not been included, as well, since most players do not wear them.
The Sleeve Stripes
Let’s just say ‘I love me some regular sleeve stripes.’ The over-the-shoulder hoop stripes were crazy with which to work in any generation of uniform. Don’t even get me started on how difficult San Diego’s lightning bolts were to manipulate! Our other challenge, from an historic standpoint, was that some uniforms have some ‘microscopic’ separations between stripes that were quite hard to confirm on aged pictures.
Considering that no uniform website has ever managed to successfully show rear views of all uniforms all the way back to the inception of nameplates in the 1960’s AFL, I think we did well. We tried to match both jersey number fonts and lettering fo
nts for nameplates as closely as possible to the genuine articles. With the size and scope of our project, different numbers would have hugely multiplied the amount of work and research in order to ‘get it right.’ We chose to stay conservative with the number 11. This way we only needed to locate images of a single number for each team’s font rather than having to track down two different numbers that would have obviously doubled both the research and the graphic challenge towards accuracy.
However, with the limitations that MSPaint (our graphic software of choice) puts on our graphics, our main problem was nameplate lettering that was not mono-tone in nature but rather outlined in one, or sometimes two, different colors. This was the one aspect of our project that I, personally, remain the most disappointed in and hope to upgrade at some point in the future. Spacing reasons, particularly with the TV numbers in several circumstances, were another reason for sticking with the number 11 on all images. If we had used the number “12,” for example, the uneven width of the numbers would cause a need for us to accurately show a “1” on one sleeve and ¾ of the “2” on the other sleeve due to this unequal size and spacing. Using “11” completely eliminates this issue, as well.
It is our desire to soon be able to add a page to our site showing all numbers, and possibly even letters, in the fonts for the eras and teams they appeared.
We began with generic black belts worn for the site’s earliest decades. Some time in the 1960’s, several teams began using belts colored something other than black and we have tried to remain as accurate as possible for all teams. We have recently discovered evidence that white and brown belts have been used on occasion as far back as the 1930’s. However, we find these to be the exceptions and not the rule so until further notice the early decades will stick with the black belts.
From 1920 to 1931 we utilized an old-fashioned style of football pants with high hip pads. A decision was made to stick with the same pants template for the modern era of pro football beginning in 1932. Sure, exceptions exist especially in the early years, but, like the belts, these are still exceptions and not the rule. Thought was put towards removing thigh and kneepads from the templates for recent years giving them the dreaded ‘bicycle-pants’ look. But with the League proposing that these pads may get sewn into the pants in 2013 due to safety concerns, we have chosen to keep the pads as they have been.
The Pant Stripes
With only a few exceptions, modern pants stripes cannot be seen from the front or rear. We have chosen to show these stripes between the front and rear views. In most cases, these stripes are identical on each side. However, certain teams have placed anniversary logos on one side stripe but not the other. In these situations we have shown both side stripes and labeled them accordingly. Still others have utilized stripes that are mirror-images of each other. Technically, since there is nothing inherently different about them other than being reversed, we have chosen to simply catalogue these instances rather than cluttering up our work. Here is a listing of these instances…
Arizona (2005-current)Atlanta (2003-current)Buffalo (2011-current)Carolina (1995-current)Cincinnati (2004-current)Denver (1997-current)Jacksonville (black pants of 2004-2008; 2009-current)Minnesota (2006-current)Philadelphia (green pants of 1996; 2003-current)San Diego (1960-65, 1967-71, 1979-87, 1992-current)Washington (1979-current)
This listing refers to the ‘normal’ unifo
rms used for each of these years and not to any uniform combinations that would be considered throwbacks during the year in which they were worn.
High whites were the norm for most of the 1960’s and 1970’s. In today’s games you can see players wearing solid leggings from their knees to their ankles with little or no whites at all. You can see players showing an average amount of white. You can also see players of today trying their best to fit into the 1970’s with the high whites. As we have done before, we decided to go with the average, middle-of-the-road appearance for the teams of the last few decades.
White shoes began to appear with the advent of artificial turf. For quite a few years some teams had players wearing both white and black shoes in the same game–players’ personal preferences. We have illustrated when the teams have had the majority of players cross the line from black shoes to white shoes. This time frame is not rigid but rather shows teams’ general tendencies before teams’ shoe colors became mandated the League. We have kept one shoe template for the entire run – either black or white. With the few exceptions being a handful of teams that wore colored shoes during the 1970’s (Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Washington), we have stuck with either plain white or plain black. In this current era, teams are required to declare whether their team will wear a base-black or a base-white. This is not a guarantee that the shoes will be monotone, however. On a given team nearly a dozen different styles of shoes, each with differing patterns of the teams’ colors swirled in with the basic color, can be seen. It would be impossible to illustrate all of the different models. For this reason, we have stuck with the basic white or black.
With the Nike takeover in 2012 has come a relaxing of League uniform regulations pertaining to colors of footwear. ‘Team-colored’ cleats that would have drawn a fine during the 2011 season, have become S.O.P. in 2012. Teammates have worn multiple varieties of ‘team-colored’ footwear as well as mixing in a sizeable percentage of old-school basic black and basic white – sometimes on the same team in the same game. A logistical nightmare to display all possible color combinations and styles, we at the GUD have decided less is more. Unlike those teams mentioned above in the 1970’s where the entire team went to single colored cleats, these copious patterns and colors will not be reflected in the 2012 season images or in any season after unless a standardization is implemented League wide. We had been prepared for the anticipated Nike Vapor cleats if they were to have been worn by the majority of the team as we had done for the 1970’s and early 1980’s as teams slowly transitioned from black to white cleats, going with the majority per team per year. We will continue to draw the line as ‘light’ shoes or ‘dark’ shoes but nothing beyond that for the time being.
The Shades of Colors
Chromatic accuracy for several teams was extremely difficult. Post-World War II Detroit went through quite a few shades of blue. Pittsburgh had ‘gold’ pants that had an almost ‘orangey’ tint to them and gradually transitioned to nearly a lemon-yellow. Miami seems to change their version of aqua every decade or so. The best thing we could do was to try to use the most common shade of the color for the year(s) in question as they appeared in photographic evidence. All within one game, pictures showed Chicago’s orange appear to vary from a neon-orange all the way to red while their navy blue in many cases looked as black as night. We attempted to use some online resources that claimed to have exact color swatches for all teams throughout League history but this was simply not the case. In some cas
es their accuracy wasn’t even close to what we uncovered in multiple photos.
It is my hope that these guides through our templates will help you better understand the great detail we have put into this effort and what it is we have done to represent these historical images of teams that go back in some cases nearly a century and how team uniforms, and the football uniform itself, have evolved to what we see today.
Q. Why did you only use the number 11 instead of other numbers as well?
A. With nearly 80 years of history to cover, limiting to a single digit reduced the amount of research time needed for uncovering fonts. Secondly, when we get to the era of TV numbers, the spacing on the sleeves is much easier to manipulate 1's into a centered position than wider numbers. Thirdly, and along the same lines, the 1's are easier to get into tight places like inside the sleeve horn on a Rams jersey. Other numbers would need to be made too small to look right. We do intend, at some point in the future, to add a section to the site that includes full size versions of each teams number fonts 0-9.
Q. I've seen pictures of games back in the 30's and 40's and some teams had really huge numbers on their backs. Why do you not show these?
A. In some cases we have. Check out the 1940-46 Cardinals. It's simply a matter of coming across photographic proof that can be validated to a specific year without question. That's not always the easiest thing. When we do come across situations like these that are verifiable, they will be corrected on the site.
Q. If I find something that contradicts an image that you are displaying, how do I submit it?
A. You can start a thread in our forum, post a comment on our blog, or send an email directly to either Rob, (the webmaster), Tim, (the site historian and researcher), or Bill (graphics).
Q. Has the size of your images ever caused you to limit what you've shown?
A. Two cases come to mind. The first occurred when it was brought to our attention that a minute change was made to the mid-90's Denver helmet logo:
When you blow up the image, the differences between the two logos can be seen, but at the scale we are showing the images, it would be impossible to notice that any difference exists at all.
The second involved the case of the 1964-74 Buffalo Bills...
...where the outlines on their sleeve stripes were so small that, at the scale we are working with, they couldn't possibly show up. Photo evidence shows them to be approximately 1/16th of an inch wide (or less). If we were to display the outlines on our images, the outlines would show up much larger than in reality and completely out of proportion with the rest of the uniform. For this reason we have taken the liberty of not including this particular group of outlines.
Beginning with the 2012 season images, we are showing the graphics at a larger resolution, but recent changes involving a silver outline on the Eagles' jersey numbers and a discovery about the old Buccaneers' helmet logo have been very minute and barely show up in our graphics at all.
NOTE: For the most part all uniforms incorporated side stripes that were identical. However there are several instances in which the stripes have been mirror-images of each other or flat-out different. When different both the left and right sides are shown. For a listing of the mirror-images please check out the portion of “About Our Template” that relates to pants stripes.
DISCLAIMER: All team and league information, sports logos, sports uniforms, and jerseys contained within this site are the intellectual properties of their respective leagues, teams, ownership groups and/or organizations, and were obtained from sources in the public domain. All manufacturers’ logos are similarly the property of those companies, current or former. Their use has been credited on every image upon which they are utilized.
This site is maintained for research and historical purposes only, and any information obtained from this site may not be sold to any third parties.
The design of the templates used in the images, and all of their variations, including all helmet templates, are solely the property of Bill Schaefer and this site.
Use of our constructed images requires the permission of Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and/or Rob Holecko.
© 2011, 2012, 2013 Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko.